An extinction distinction.
A post shared by Austin Kleon (@austinkleon) on
I’ve been working on cataloging 13 years worth of my newspaper blackout work. It’s a very high-tech system: I sit in front of the computer with my big numbered binders and transcribe each poem into a big text file.
For me, there is a spiritual crush that happens when going through this much old work. You realize, that just like everything else, 90% of your work is mediocre at best. Most of it is crap. (Mary Karr once said reading old work is like a dog sniffing old turds.)
Still, there’s that 10%. (Is the binder 90% empty, or 10% full?) If 9 out of 10 poems are mediocre, there’s that 1 left that’s pretty good. And you couldn’t have gotten that 1 poem without those 9 bad ones. One poem that’s pretty good is better than no poem at all.
Better than nothing.
PS. The music in the video is Ravel, played wonderfully by The Emerson Quartet.
This is how I often feel about putting work out into the world.